Forty years after our war and nearly a decade after the Texas Legislature approved a monument on the Capitol grounds to honor Texas Vietnam warriors, we have some good news to share.
On Friday, the State Preservation Board of Texas gave its final approval to the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.
It is a beautiful sculpture honoring the Texans who served, and in 3,417 cases, died, as part of the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
This spectacular, 14-foot bronze monument designed by artist Duke Sundt will be dedicated on Texas Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29, 2014, in a long overdue and much celebrated “Welcome Home” to all Texans who served in the Vietnam War.
We hope all Texas Vietnam veterans and their loved ones will join us as we honor them.
Already the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument is doing great work to pay tribute and bring healing to Texas Vietnam Veterans and the families whose loved ones were lost to them in service to our nation.
The Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit — or the “dog tag exhibit,” as it has become known — is touring our state, and our Groundbreaking Ceremony and Reading of the Names this past spring were attended by more than 1,000 veterans, families and citizens of Texas.
We are currently developing a mobile website that will allow visitors to the monument to experience a “virtual tour” explaining its symbolism and sharing the stories of the Texans who served. And, best of all, the monument is in the final stages of production.
There are many people to thank.
This project was approved by legislation co-sponsored by Senator Juan Hinojosa and Representative Wayne Smith, both Vietnam vets.
It has been funded by the generous donations of hundreds of Texas individuals, veteran organizations, foundations and businesses.
Building the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument has been a labor of love for me and the other veterans who have volunteered as committee members.
We Vietnam veterans are a band of brothers of sisters, diminished in size by 3,417 Texans who are still with us in our hearts though not in our lives.
They died there in that small country as far from home as you can get, and there, but for the grace of God, did we. We will never forget.
Our service was not always honored when we came home, but my fellow vets — and those who live in our hearts — we are going to have a monument that will make you proud to have served your nation.
It will show you the love and admiration your fellow Texans feel for you, and it will ensure that the future remembers that when America called them to war in Vietnam, Texans answered.
Forty years ago we joined together in service as our nation sent us to war.
Thanks to the support of Texas and her people, next March 29, we will join together again, this time on the grounds of our Texas home, to dedicate our monument and hear our state say the words we’ve waited so long to hear: “welcome home, soldier, and thank you for your service. Texas is proud of you.”
Robert Floyd is chairman of the Executive Committee of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Committee.